Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announce agreement to legalize adult-use Cannabis

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NEW YORK, USA – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced an agreement on legislation (S.854-A/A.1248-A) to legalize adult-use cannabis.

The bill would establish the Office of Cannabis Management to implement a comprehensive regulatory framework that would cover medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp. The bill would also expand New York State’s existing medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp programs. The legislation provides licensing for marijuana producers, distributors, retailers, and other actors in the cannabis market, and creates a social and economic equity program to assist individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement that want to participate in the industry.

The development of an adult-use cannabis industry in New York State under this legislation has the potential to create significant economic opportunities for New Yorkers and the State. Tax collections from the adult-use cannabis program are projected to reach $350 million annually. Additionally, there is the potential for this new industry to create 30,000 to 60,000 new jobs across the State.

“For generations, too many New Yorkers have been unfairly penalized for the use and sale of adult-use cannabis, arbitrarily arrested and jailed with harsh mandatory minimum sentences. After years of tireless advocacy and extraordinarily hard work, that time is coming to an end in New York State,” Governor Cuomo said. “Legalizing adult-use cannabis isn’t just about creating a new market that will provide jobs and benefit the economy – it’s also about justice for long-marginalized communities and ensuring those who’ve been unfairly penalized in the past will now get a chance to benefit. I look forward to signing this legislation into law.”

“There were many important aspects of this legislation that needed to be addressed correctly – especially the racial disparities that have plagued our state’s response to marijuana use and distribution as well as ensuring public safety – and I am proud we have reached the finish line,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Thank you to the Senate sponsor, Senator Liz Krueger, for her tireless efforts to get this legislation advanced and done right. I am glad we are stepping up to give New Yorkers the fair and equitable adult-use marijuana market they deserve.”

“When we decriminalized adult use of marijuana in 2019, the Assembly Majority knew that legalization had to be done the right way – in a way that would help not harm our communities that have been devastated by the state’s drug laws,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “This bill will do that and I thank Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes for her tireless efforts. The MRTA does not just legalize the adult use of marijuana, but it rights decades of disproportionately targeting people of color, ensures they are included in the legal marijuana industry and reinvests in education and in communities that have been harmed.”

“For years I have been working toward legalizing marijuana in a way that ensured a safe product, that we would be able to invest in the lives of people who suffered as a result of mass incarcerations, and to allow us to invest in our communities,” Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said. “I have been committed to getting this done correctly and justly. I believe that the MRTA does all of those things.”

The New York State Cannabis/Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act contains the following provisions.

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